Tag Archives: runners world

The Runner’s World Big Book of Running For Beginners

I have to start this out by saying that I am 100% completely biased on this one. (with good reason…they put me in it!)

That being said, I have a review for a running book for you today. And quite frankly, even if there were no outside factors influencing me, I would still love presenting this because it speaks directly to a lot of people that best relate to my story and this blog.

I’ve said it before, but what seems to be my “target demographic” and the readers who best relate with my experiences are those who are just beginning to adopt a healthier and more active lifestyle. Often times, it’s people who are looking to start running never really have before, those who have some weight to lose and want to accomplish that by moving more and eating right, or all of the above.

And since I have taken the approach of addressing this beginners group and oftentimes speaking directly to them, I am very excited that Runner’s World has decided to put out a book titled: The Big Book Of Running For Beginners.

BIG BOOK FOR BEGINNERS COVER

It’s a book that provides some great information to both the beginning runner who is new to the sport, and to those (who haven’t even started yet) who are just starting to think about becoming a beginning runner.

So whether you are a relative newbie to the running world,  more experienced and just looking to touch base with your roots, or even if you’re sitting on the couch right now with a bowl of ice cream in your hand as you read this, the information provided in this book will be useful and should be of interest.

In my experience, one of the hardest things about my getting started running and being more active is that the whole thing just seems so damn overwhelming. There is so much information out there, a lot of it conflicting…and a lot of it coming from varied (and sometimes sketchy) sources just looking to sell you something that you can get lost in it all and not see the forest for the trees, if you know what I mean. I wish that I had something like this book, which can be looked at as a “running 101” or “one stop shopping” collection of info to give me a solid base to start with. It would have made things a lot easier and less intimidating, I can tell you that for sure.

I know what you’re thinking:
OK, We get it. You like it. So tell us about it… what all is actually provided in this book?
It gives an overview of the sport of running, offers up some detailed plans to help you get started, no matter what point you are currently at, provides some useful and interesting information regarding nutrition and weight loss,  and finally provides some humor & motivational/inspirational stories to go along with it all.

… And continue along the same old lines of my story and this blog opening doors that I never even imagined/ would have told you you were insane talking about before I began any of this… my story has been included as one of the inspirational examples and used throughout the book.

It is a very surreal feeling to open up a book from a reputable source and see a picture of your face staring back at you. Not to mention from a real deal publisher. It’s not like I’m opening a limited run pamphlet from “Big Bob’s Instant Book Pressing Service”, no,  this is coming right from the folks at Runner’s World. Crazy.

Full disclosure: Mine is one of several stories that are in the book. It’s not like it’s “The Big Book of Andy”, but given what I am trying to do with inspiring others and introducing new beginners into this sport that I now love so much, it’s just completely an honor and humbling experience to be included. So while I’m certainly not here to gloat or thump my chest… I am just still kind of awestruck about the entire situation… Now back to the book.

The beginning info is great. a lot of the stuff that you always wanted to know (or didn’t even know that you wanted to know) but were afraid to ask. It’s got a pretty great section on nutrition,  which I found myself re-reading a couple times, and a lot of strength and stretching exercises that normal people and not only elite level athletes/ gym rats can do. “Stretches for the people”, if you will.

I really like how it has plans designed to take you from literally just walking and easing you into running and meeting your goal, no matter what that goal might be. Whether it’s to just get moving for the first time, extending your distances, or improving on your current conditioning, it is all touched on.

Not to mention it has submissions from (hands down) my two favorite runners world editors/contributors: Ted Spiker and Mark Remy. Both of which are extremely funny, relatable guys who talk about running from “our” perspective while providing useful, real-life takeaways.

As for the specific details, the book breaks out like this:

Getting Started
-Basics
-Become a runner in 5 easy steps
-Motivation: getting going and sticking with it

Nutrition and weight loss
-Eat like a runner
-Losing weight and keeping it off

Staying Healthy and Injury Free
-Run safe & injury free
-Preventing and coping with Injuries

It even has an appendix with a dedicated “run for 30 min straight” plan, a guide to common running terns , and a suggested grocery list.

Not sure I can give away any of the actual wording from inside the chapters/ the book itself, I don’t want to piss anybody off or infringe on any copyrighted material.

That being said, the book description on Amazon reads like this :

Every day, people are reaching their get-up-or-give-up moments and resolving to change. And they’re realizing that running is the simplest, cheapest, and most effective way to lose weight, gain confidence, and relieve stress. For newcomers, the obstacles are fierce. There are fears of pain and embarrassment. There are schedules jam-packed with stressful jobs, long commutes, endless meetings, and sticky-fingered toddlers.
The Runner’s World Big Book of Running for Beginners provides all the information neophytes need to take their first steps, as well as inspiration for staying motivated. The book presents readers with tips for smart nutrition and injury prevention and includes realistic training plans that enable beginning runners to achieve gradual progress (by gearing up for a 30-minute run, a 5-K, or even a 5-miler). Above all, it will show newbies just how fun and rewarding the sport can be, thanks to the help of several “real runner” testimonials.

Suffice it to say that it is WELL worth the 15-20 bucks that they are asking for it.
… Speaking of which, you can use this link to go to an informational page that has connections with pretty much every online bookseller that you could ever need to pick this up.

http://bit.ly/RWBBR4B

Let me also say that I was not compensated in any way for any of this. I didn’t get anything for being in the book, I don’t get anything if you buy one copy or 100 copies. I just get to be in the book. Actually, the only form of compensation I received at all was a free advance copy so I can read it and review it for you.

So when I say that I definitely think it’s worth your while to pick this up, it’s solely with the best intentions (and no conflicting interests or ulterior motives) in mind.

If you are looking to get moving for the first time, looking to lose a few pounds and do it in part by running, or looking for some solid and well laid out plans from the experts at Runner’s world to build up a solid fitness base and start your active lifestyle off on the right foot, check this out. Reading through it is definitely time well spent. …and then go for a run. When it’s over I think you’ll be glad you did.

As Always: Thanks for reading and I hope this helps.
Andy

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I am approaching this review from my standard viewpoint of what I believe the core interest of this blog really gets at: that is to say I am presenting my review by looking at this product from the perspective of a person who is relatively new to the running world, has some weight to lose and wants go about losing the weight by starting to incorporate a more active lifestyle and want to know how sift through the volumes of available gear/ equipment out there.

One of the great benefits to running a blog like this one is that it puts me in a position from time to time to receive various products to use and review for you. Oftentimes, these items are provided to me free of charge. This is the only type of compensation I have ever received, and my acceptance of these items in no way constitutes any obligation to provide an unwarranted positive review. My opinions on the products are unfiltered and 100% my own.

**This product was provided to me free of charge, but again, this does not influence my review or views on the product in any way**

Also please note that these are the personal opinions and experiences of one individual (me) on my personal blog, and intended to be taken as such. I personally, and The Running My Ass Off Blog do not accept any liability from the purchase or use of any products reviewed on this blog.

**Sorry, just have to cover my ass here. These are unbiased reviews, intended only to help. I’m not going to try and sell you anything, nor do I want you to take my opinions as the final word on any product. Let me help you figure out what you should check out, and then check the stuff out for yourself to see if you like it.**

The Grid Foam Roller Product Review

Next up is one of those miscellaneous training items that make you feel like a real deal athlete.( well, me at least) You know what I’m talking about, the kind of tool that before I became so running/ fitness minded I never imagined this kind of thing existed. What I am talking about is the foam roller. Long explanation short, this is a round piece of foam that exists for you to self-massage your muscles after you have worked out and are sore/ tight and looking for some relief and to assist in preventing injury. A quick internet search will return dozens of variations of these foam rollers, but the one that is consistently regarded as the top of the line, the “Cadillac of Rollers” if you will, the one that is called The Grid, made by Triggerpoint Therapy. I am happy to tell you that I have been provided one of The Grid rollers to use and review for you.

m-349-trigger-point

Ok, so lets get this out of the way. Don’t mistake me here. Yes it helps, and yes, in the long run this reduces pain, but using this thing (any foam roller for that matter) hurts like a mother. It simulates a deep tissue massage, and as such uses your own body weight to supply the pressure. Dude, it hurts.

 I am attaching some pics of me using the roller, but I am also linking to a series of videos that I used myself to get acclimated and for reference, by our good friends at Runners World.

 http://www.runnersworld.com/stretching/foam-roller-video-series

 Ok, time to geek out for a minute, because I think that having the background will give the point of reference and really help you understand where I’m coming from and drive home how the roller actually helps.

Bear in mind I can give you a rough idea. I am by no means an expert or authority on the matter and as is usually the case, there is so much more that goes into this, but I have the high level overview as to how things work and that will succeed in demonstrating my point.

When you exercise, your muscles utilize Glucose and Glycogen, you can basically think of this as fuel. Its an efficient source of energy and what makes things go when you are being active. There is a downside to this, however (isn’t there always?) the problem is that once the fuel is used up it leaves behind a byproduct, and that byproduct is called lactic acid. This is bad stuff. You know it, but you probably just think of it as the pain or the “burn” in your muscles. In realistic terms, it’s why your legs are killing you the day after you really go for it while you are running or lift weights too aggressively. It’s a sign you used up what you’ve got and fully depleted the supplies. This is not a bad thing, that’s when the strengthening happens and endurance is built. But back to the lactic acid. So, you hit the treadmill or the hills in your neighborhood hard, and as a result your leg muscles (quads, calves, etc) are now A) chock full of this lactic acid, and subsequently B) killing you. The acid will dissipate naturally, which is why the burn goes away after a day or so, or if you’d rather take matters into your own hands, you can massage the muscles yourself which helps to clear it out much faster (or if you want to throw around fancy/ official/ technical terms: you would be administering Self Myofascial Massage. See? Told you it sounds fancy and official). You can either shell out the money to get a massage every time, which (unless you have a money tree or a trust fund or something this is not really a realistic option) or get yourself a foam roller. The foam roller is specifically designed to mimic a massage that can be used to work out that lactic acid, loosen up tight muscles, and generally keep things more flexible and less painful.

 An easy way to think of it is this: (I’m a food guy, so it always comes back to this for me) think of your muscles, (your calves for instance) as a piece of pizza dough. The way to use this roller effectively is to start at one end and slowly roll back and forth, working your way up your leg as if you were working the air out out of a piece of dough until you find a tight spot or knot (believe me, you WILL KNOW when you find one) and then you use the body weight and pressure to work out the knot. Then commence slowly working the back and forth as you work your way all the way up and then back down to where you started.

Ok, high level nerdy workout section complete. Sorry for the little background lesson there, but unless you have a little background as to why this tool is necessary, I feel like the message (and the value in the review) kind of gets lost.

 So onto the review of The Grid.

Foam rollers are, as the name would suggest, a round tube made of foam that looks and acts much like a rolling pin. Only in this instance “the dough” that you are using this rolling pin on is your ailing muscles.

It’s generally 12” or so in length and about 6” wide. They get longer, coming in lengths of up to 36” in order to be used for other things like rolling your back and such. My experience has been strictly on the “running related” muscles, so I will stick to those uses that I actually have some experience with now. I am talking about my Calves, Quads (thighs), IT Band (outside of your thighs), and Glutes (…the butt).

The Grid itself is a departure from the standard foam roller. Pretty much all the rollers on the market you will find are basically one giant smooth tube of foam. The Grid, however is a hollow Plastic tube with a good inch or so of foam all the way around the outside, with a grid like pattern. The idea behind the pattern is that it mimics more of a human hand. The large flat panels resembling the palms, the long skinny panels the fingers, and the small squares the fingertips or knuckles. This is a damn sturdy piece of equipment and the quality of materials/ care in assembly come through. It just feels solid and like it’s going to stay that way for years.  As for the usage, I have been using it quite a bit over the past month and I have had a very positive experience with it. I’m getting pretty good at using it/ balancing on it/ and getting the desired results. I can tell you that this is one of those things that is not as much “instant gratification” as it is a good habit to develop and will pay dividends over time. Important take away here is that although you will not feel better immediately after using it (it’s not magic, after all) I can report through my own experience that my recovery time/ pain has been substantially reduced. I feel better faster, and I am a huge fan of that.

 GRID 1image 2

Another nice thing about this being hollow is that I can string it onto the shoulder strap of my gym bag if I want to. This is a convenient way to carry it (and also makes me look super legit and like I am a serious gym rat when I do it…Just saying.)

So I have been working with my Physical Therapist and getting them to help me in learning the correct form on this thing. I wanted to make sure I was using it right/ to its fullest potential.

 Bringing it back to the readers: who can use this/ who should look into this? I would say that this foam roller is more of a mid-level add on/ equipment addition. It’s not to say a beginner cannot benefit from this, but the circumstances for more frequent usage really start presenting themselves once you get comfortable running and your mileage starts increasing a little bit. Training for that first 5K? you probably will not need this just yet. However: training for that first Half Marathon? It may very well be time to get to rolling. This is one of those products that will not improve your running itself, exactly, but it definitely does improve your recovery, your mental outlook, and indirectly, the overall running experience.

 Like I said in the very beginning of this review, for something that provides a bunch of benefits, don’t lose sight of the sight that you are putting basically all (or at least most) of your body weight down on a concentrated spot, and then using that spot to work knots out of your muscles. It hurts. Hurts so good, but hurts nonetheless.

 I had been using a more entry level foam roller before I was provided The Grid, and between the pattern on the surface and the high quality/ stability of the roller itself, I have now been spoiled for the old one completely. Like I said, if you are progressing to the point in our running where you will start looking to up the mileage and frequency of your runs and want to help keep things loose and pain free, The Grid is worth checking out. It sells for about $40 everywhere I found it online. (it does bear mentioning that you can find foam rollers for as cheap as $16, but this is a matter where I believe you get what you pay for. One of the #1 complaints I’ve read when researching these rollers across the board was that with the less expensive rollers tend to lose their shape quickly with use and develop “indents or depressions” of compressed areas when you actually roll on it) I’d rather drop $40 once than $16 three separate times for an inferior product.

 imageimage(1)

 Overall, this is “one of the pieces of the puzzle” for me. This roller, combined with the consistent use of compression gear, additional cross training, stretching and strengthening exercises, and altering my running form are all working together to make me a better, stronger, more flexible runner. All that adds up to an injury free (or at least less injured) runner; and that is the name of the game. I am a fan of The Grid and encourage you to check it out, particularly if you are in a position like mine where some additional steps now to pay dividends later on are a point of focus for you.

 ______________________________________________________

I am approaching this review from my standard viewpoint of what I believe the core interest of this blog really gets at: that is to say I am presenting my review by looking at this product from the perspective of a person who is relatively new to the running world, has some weight to lose and wants go about losing the weight by starting to incorporate a more active lifestyle and want to know how sift through the volumes of available gear/ equipment out there.

One of the great benefits to running a blog like this one is that it puts me in a position from time to time to receive various products to use and review for you. Oftentimes, these items are provided to me free of charge. This is the only type of compensation I have ever received, and my acceptance of these items in no way constitutes any obligation to provide an unwarranted positive review. My opinions on the products are unfiltered and 100% my own.

**This product was provided to me free of charge, but again, this does not influence my review or views on the product in any way**

Also please note that these are the personal opinions and experiences of one individual (me) on my personal blog, and intended to be taken as such. I personally, and The Running My Ass Off Blog do not accept any liability from the purchase or use of any products reviewed on this blog.

**Sorry, just have to cover my ass here. These are unbiased reviews, intended only to help. I’m not going to try and sell you anything, nor do I want you to take my opinions as the final word on any product. Let me help you figure out what you should check out, and then check the stuff out for yourself to see if you like it.**